School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences - Research Publications

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    Seasonal and daily activity of non-native sambar deer in and around high-elevation peatlands, south-eastern Australia
    Comte, S ; Thomas, E ; Bengsen, AJ ; Bennett, A ; Davis, NE ; Freney, S ; Jackson, SM ; White, M ; Forsyth, DM ; Brown, D ; Taylor, A (CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2022-05-26)
    Context Of the six species of non-native deer present in Australia, the sambar deer is the largest and has been identified as a major threat to high-elevation peatlands in south-eastern Australia. However, little is known about sambar deer activity in high-elevation peatlands. Aims The aims of this study were to quantify sambar deer activity (including wallowing) seasonally and daily in response to biotic and abiotic variables, and how activity was impacted by ground-based shooting. Methods To estimate sambar deer activity, camera traps were continuously deployed for 4 years in two ~4300-ha areas in Alpine National Park, Victoria, south-eastern Australia. One area was subject to management operations using ground-based shooting to target deer and the other was not. Monthly activity of sambar deer was modelled using biotic (woody vegetation cover), abiotic (snow depth, aspect, slope, distance to water, road and peatland) and management (treatment versus non-treatment) covariates. Additional camera traps were deployed to monitor sambar deer activity at wallows. Key results Sambar deer activity decreased when snow depth increased (between July and September), and was highest in easterly and northerly aspects with dense woody vegetation close to high-elevation peatlands and roads. During our 4-year study, sambar deer activity decreased in the treatment area but increased in the non-treatment area. Sambar deer exhibited a crepuscular diel cycle, with greatest activity around sunset. Only male sambar deer were observed to wallow, with most wallowing occurring in the afternoon during October–June. Conclusions Sambar deer utilised high-elevation peatlands during October–June. Daily activity was crepuscular and was greatest in dense tree cover close to roads. Ground-based shooting reduced sambar deer activity in and around high-elevation peatlands. Implications Control operations targeting sambar deer at high elevations in south-eastern Australia should be conducted during October–June. Outside this period sambar deer appear to use lower-elevation habitats. The effectiveness of ground-based shooting could be improved by focusing this control action around sunset (when sambar deer are most active) and in places with dense vegetation close to roads and high-elevation peatlands.
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    How Modelers Model: the Overlooked Social and Human Dimensions in Model Intercomparison Studies.
    Albanito, F ; McBey, D ; Harrison, M ; Smith, P ; Ehrhardt, F ; Bhatia, A ; Bellocchi, G ; Brilli, L ; Carozzi, M ; Christie, K ; Doltra, J ; Dorich, C ; Doro, L ; Grace, P ; Grant, B ; Léonard, J ; Liebig, M ; Ludemann, C ; Martin, R ; Meier, E ; Meyer, R ; De Antoni Migliorati, M ; Myrgiotis, V ; Recous, S ; Sándor, R ; Snow, V ; Soussana, J-F ; Smith, WN ; Fitton, N (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2022-09-20)
    There is a growing realization that the complexity of model ensemble studies depends not only on the models used but also on the experience and approach used by modelers to calibrate and validate results, which remain a source of uncertainty. Here, we applied a multi-criteria decision-making method to investigate the rationale applied by modelers in a model ensemble study where 12 process-based different biogeochemical model types were compared across five successive calibration stages. The modelers shared a common level of agreement about the importance of the variables used to initialize their models for calibration. However, we found inconsistency among modelers when judging the importance of input variables across different calibration stages. The level of subjective weighting attributed by modelers to calibration data decreased sequentially as the extent and number of variables provided increased. In this context, the perceived importance attributed to variables such as the fertilization rate, irrigation regime, soil texture, pH, and initial levels of soil organic carbon and nitrogen stocks was statistically different when classified according to model types. The importance attributed to input variables such as experimental duration, gross primary production, and net ecosystem exchange varied significantly according to the length of the modeler's experience. We argue that the gradual access to input data across the five calibration stages negatively influenced the consistency of the interpretations made by the modelers, with cognitive bias in "trial-and-error" calibration routines. Our study highlights that overlooking human and social attributes is critical in the outcomes of modeling and model intercomparison studies. While complexity of the processes captured in the model algorithms and parameterization is important, we contend that (1) the modeler's assumptions on the extent to which parameters should be altered and (2) modeler perceptions of the importance of model parameters are just as critical in obtaining a quality model calibration as numerical or analytical details.
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    The predictive performance of process-explicit range change models remains largely untested
    Uribe-Rivera, DE ; Guillera-Arroita, G ; Windecker, SM ; Pliscoff, P ; Wintle, BA (WILEY, 2022-08-18)
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    A toolkit for open and pluralistic conservation science
    Burgman, M ; Chiaravalloti, R ; Fidler, F ; Huan, Y ; McBride, M ; Marcoci, A ; Norman, J ; Vercammen, A ; Wintle, B ; Yu, Y (WILEY, 2022-09-30)
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    "Set and forget" does not work when it comes to fissure roosts carved into live trees for bats
    Griffiths, SR ; Lentini, PE ; Semmens, K ; Robert, KA (WILEY, 2022-07-21)
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    The fuel-climate-fire conundrum: How will fire regimes change in temperate eucalypt forests under climate change?
    McColl-Gausden, SC ; Bennett, LT ; Clarke, HG ; Ababei, DA ; Penman, TD (WILEY, 2022-06-16)
    Fire regimes are changing across the globe in response to complex interactions between climate, fuel, and fire across space and time. Despite these complex interactions, research into predicting fire regime change is often unidimensional, typically focusing on direct relationships between fire activity and climate, increasing the chances of erroneous fire predictions that have ignored feedbacks with, for example, fuel loads and availability. Here, we quantify the direct and indirect role of climate on fire regime change in eucalypt dominated landscapes using a novel simulation approach that uses a landscape fire modelling framework to simulate fire regimes over decades to centuries. We estimated the relative roles of climate-mediated changes as both direct effects on fire weather and indirect effects on fuel load and structure in a full factorial simulation experiment (present and future weather, present and future fuel) that included six climate ensemble members. We applied this simulation framework to predict changes in fire regimes across six temperate forested landscapes in south-eastern Australia that encompass a broad continuum from climate-limited to fuel-limited. Climate-mediated change in weather and fuel was predicted to intensify fire regimes in all six landscapes by increasing wildfire extent and intensity and decreasing fire interval, potentially led by an earlier start to the fire season. Future weather was the dominant factor influencing changes in all the tested fire regime attributes: area burnt, area burnt at high intensity, fire interval, high-intensity fire interval, and season midpoint. However, effects of future fuel acted synergistically or antagonistically with future weather depending on the landscape and the fire regime attribute. Our results suggest that fire regimes are likely to shift across temperate ecosystems in south-eastern Australia in coming decades, particularly in climate-limited systems where there is the potential for a greater availability of fuels to burn through increased aridity.
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    Power of faecal pellet count and camera trapping indices to monitor mammalian herbivore activity
    Davis, NE ; Di Stefano, J ; Whelan, J ; Wright, J ; Taylor, L ; Coulson, G ; Sitters, H (CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2022-06-07)
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    Patterns of genomic diversity and linkage disequilibrium across the disjunct range of the Australian forest tree Eucalyptus globulus
    Butler, JB ; Freeman, JS ; Potts, BM ; Vaillancourt, RE ; Kahrood, HV ; Ades, PK ; Rigault, P ; Tibbits, JFG (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-06-01)
    Abstract The evolutionary trajectory of a population both influences and is influenced by characteristics of its genome. A disjunct population, for example is likely to exhibit genomic features distinct from those of continuous populations, reflecting its specific evolutionary history and influencing future recombination outcomes. We examined genetic diversity, population differentiation and linkage disequilibrium (LD) across the highly disjunct native range of the Australian forest tree Eucalyptus globulus, using 203,337 SNPs genotyped in 136 trees spanning seven races. We found support for four broad genetic groups, with moderate FST, high allelic diversity and genome-wide LD decaying to an r2 of 0.2 within 4 kb on average. These results are broadly similar to those reported previously in Eucalyptus species and support the ‘ring’ model of migration proposed for E. globulus. However, two of the races (Otways and South-eastern Tasmania) exhibited a much slower decay of LD with physical distance than the others and were also the most differentiated and least diverse, which may reflect the effects of selective sweeps and/or genetic bottlenecks experienced in their evolutionary history. We also show that FST and rates of LD vary within and between chromosomes across all races, suggestive of recombination outcomes influenced by genomic features, hybridization or selection. The results obtained from studying this species serve to illustrate the genomic effects of population disjunction and further contribute to the characterisation of genomes of woody genera.
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    Changes in the resilience of resprouting juvenile tree populations in temperate forests due to coupled severe drought and fire
    Bendall, ER ; Bedward, M ; Boer, M ; Clarke, H ; Collins, L ; Leigh, A ; Bradstock, RA (SPRINGER, 2022-06-25)
    Abstract Elevated tree mortality and reduced recruitment of new trees linked to drought and fires has been reported across a range of forests over the last few decades. Forests that resprout new foliage epicormically from buds beneath the bark are considered highly resilient to disturbance, but are potentially at risk of elevated mortality, demographic shifts and changes to species composition due to synergistic effects of drought and fire. Despite this, the effects of drought-fire interactions on such forests remain largely unknown. We assessed the effects of drought severity and fire frequency on juvenile mortality, post-fire seedling recruitment and replacement of juvenile trees (balance of recruitment minus mortality) following fire. We compared dry ridgetops and wet gullies (i.e. two forest types that inhabit different topographic positions in the landscape) across a temperate forest in southern Australia. Both forest types experienced higher rates of fire-induced juvenile mortality in areas that had experienced severe drought compared to moderate drought, though mortality rates were generally low across all drought and fire combinations (e.g. < 15%). This result indicated that topographic position did little to reduce juvenile mortality when exposed to severe drought plus fire. In wet forest, severe drought also reduced recruitment and replacement of dead juveniles by post-fire seedlings compared to moderate drought. In dry forest net-negative replacement increased with the severity of drought. Across both forest types, the total pool of juveniles was reduced under severe drought (by 16–79 in DSF; 5–11 in WSF). Future increases in the frequency of coupled severe drought and fire could potentially increase the susceptibility of resilient temperate forests to major changes in structure and function.